Tour shows water flow, from Lake Erie to tap
Water in Bay Village and Westlake currently comes from the Cleveland Water Crown Treatment Plant located on Clague Road in Westlake. On Saturday, May 7, I took the public tour celebrating 160 years of Cleveland Water. About a dozen people were guided by Scott Naelitz, a plant supervisor. We passed the reservoir which holds 36 million gallons of clean drinking water. Crown pumps 41.5 million gallons per day into the Cleveland system which serves 420,000 homes and businesses in a 640-square-mile service area.
We turned into the spotless pump building and looked into the main pump area. Our clean, tasty water comes from Lake Erie through pumps as big as 2,250 horsepower! The water comes from the intake 3 miles out in Lake Erie. The intake pipe is 24 feet in diameter – big enough to drive through.
The initial screening occurs as water enters the intake well 60 feet below ground, removing most material including fish, algae and debris. The screening is squeezed dry and made into fertilizer. We followed the water that is pumped on and up to the next building where flocculation with alum sticks together and settles more dirt and algae. One of our group tried the spinning exhibit that shows how a new slanted plastic screen cuts settling time and doubles effective area. We moved past the area chlorine first goes in the water. In 2013, Cleveland Water spent $10 million in improvements to change from chlorine gas to the safer liquid form.
It takes lots of infrastructure – pipeline, buildings and equipment – to clean and filter our water. The Cleveland system has four primary pump stations (including Crown), 11 secondary pumps stations, 22 towers and tanks, and nearly 5,200 miles of underground pipes – the piping could stretch from here to Athens, Greece! Incoming power is over 2000 volts, and is backed up by generators that can fully power the plant.
We walked on to the filtration building. A 6-foot-deep filter bed of carbon chips removes chemicals, algae, bacteria and dirt. The filter material is continually being checked and backwashed with both air and water to keep it clean. Water is again treated with chlorine and fluoride on the next level up. Equipment is well labeled and safety aids easy to reach.
We walked on to the control area and labs. The building has operators at the control station 24 hours every single day. Every process, pump and flow is monitored on the easy-to-see large screen monitors. Water is continually tested in the labs for chemicals, pH (acidity), chlorine levels and turbidity (suspended dirt). The U.S. EPA and the FDA have stringent quality requirements. In 2015, the Crown plant received the Phase IV “Excellence in Water Treatment” award, the highest achievement from the Partnership for Safe Water. The plant is only the 16th recipient of this award across all of North America.
The tour was fascinating. The plant was spotlessly clean, and well maintained. Our guide, Scott, courteously answered all our questions. I thanked Scott and went home to fill – you guessed it! – a glass of fresh, cold and clean tap water.
Project manager -construction, sustainable environment, Bay Village resident